The International Writers Magazine: Business

Management Newspeak Glossary
Dave Angus

A breakthrough meeting is held after change to tell you that it was all for the better and company efficiency will drop by as much as thirty per cent, but that we shouldn't worry as change is good and it will all be alright in the long run as long as the company can avoid going under in the period it is re-building the staff expertise lost whilst enacting the Chief Executive's vision

CHALLENGE: Scaling the highest mountains? Probing the ocean deeps? No: Sorting out the mess management has made yet again. If they call your bad experience brought about by them "challenging" it’s because they not only wish to give your life some meaning but hint you might be less of a man or not up to the "challenge" of the job if you dare complain.

A section of "Experts" who will encourage you to embrace change because change is good, change is what the company needs to become more efficient. Then will then tell you that after change happens company efficiency will drop as all the staff expertise has left.

COMMITTED: I once had a letter from a "Mr Christian Pratt" assuring me that the Association of Train Operating Companies would remain "committed" to the passengers. I didn’t know they were in the first place. He used the bullshit way of using this word. Another "we won’t listen" way is to infer that now a stupid decision has been taken it will be stuck to no matter what. Either way they ought to be committed.

Everyone must acquire competences in order to measure how well they are doing their job. Typical competences are working well in a team and embracing change. The manager decides how well you are operating these competences in an intangible way and therefore the markings cannot be objected to if you don't like them. If you object to the Chief Executives idea of moving 200 miles up country then you are not embracing change or being a team player and you can be marked down on your competences the company can reduce or avoid paying you your performance based pay increase as a result.

FANTASTIC: Buzz word. Often used in sales talk, attempts to gain money from you and when management believe they can make any situation fantastic if they use it enough. Fantastic! Well I’m sorry but after crossing Africa and terraforming Mars in 3 months, hearing this word repeatedly used by suits bouncing around trying to boost sales just doesn’t quite cut it for me.

FOCUS: Indicates management are tackling a problem with state of the art technology, probably optical. The first time I saw this word used in management parlance was in a letter to me in which they got my name wrong; despite their assurance of being "focused" being an inch below the wrong name! The next time management use this word ask them to change their opticians. I did.

INNAPROPRIATE: Oh dear such a mealy mouthed kiss of death word this one from political correctness. Watch out. There are office politicians about.

JUST: There is nothing just about this word when it is used just before an outrageous price is mentioned, as it can be, to convince you that it’s a reasonable price after all, it seems. This brainwashing should be about as effective as a cat trying to paw its crap under a carpet.

Introducing new methods of working in which more is done by less staff for a smaller wage bill. If you object to modernisation then you haven't fulfilled the criteria for some of your competences and your performance related pay rise can be reduced or held in abeyance. Reducing staff wage bills further and making modernisation more attractive to the management board.

NEGATIVE: The worst insult they can throw at you. It’s the worst crime in their book. Probably because another way of describing someone who’s negative is to say they’re a realist. If you’re employed by whoever is accusing you of this your job is endangered. If not, you should take satisfaction at having really got under their skin.

POSITIVE: It usually helps not to lose sight of what is good or hopeful about a situation, but to hear the way management use it you’d think they really do believe in the ability of employees and customers to jump off the white cliffs of Dover and fly. A hazard of "positive thinking" is that of simply agreeing with them, without thinking. Remember, there was a lot of positive thinking around during World War One, practised by the generals in the rear.

ROBUST: Somehow I can’t help thinking of rotund businessmen pretending to be gymnasts whenever I hear this word.

UNFORTUNATELY: Watch out for this one. They slip it in and in no time at all it’s bad news city where nothing can be done and it’s not their fault. The word immediately suggests that what’s gone wrong is a dictate of fortune, and therefore has nothing to do with management. Ideal get out.

UPSET: Patronising isn’t it. There you are having justifiably lost your cool with some positive thinking, committed twit, and they refer to you as being "upset." This word serves 2 purposes: To cast you in the role of a child having a tantrum; to limit the seriousness of whatever you’re having a go at them about.

If a Chief executive or Commander in Chief has a vision run like hell! It'll mean relocating your branch 200 miles up country getting rid of 95% of the current workforce, changing all your working practices and being told that you'll be in a more efficient branch. This normally results in no-one knowing what anyone else is doing or how to contact them to discuss it as all the email addresses, phone numbers, and job titles have changed.

© Dave Angus December 2006

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